March, 23 2022
Vienna, Austria

I imagine Vienna to be special year round.  On any given day, it’s acceptable to sit down for a full slice of cake on a Tuesday afternoon. It’s where Mozart made music.  It’s where The Kiss lives.  But in the winter, December in particular, amidst the fresh fallen snow and Christmas lights, with a pair of fur gloves wrapped around a glass of hot mulled wine, it’s straight from a storybook.  It’s what all your holiday dreams are made of.  

Although this was my first time in Vienna, it’s always held a special place in my heart as it’s where my Papa Max grew up.  Although he shared many fond memories of growing up in Vienna, there’s also a dark side.  It’s where he last saw his family before they were taken. It’s where his mom saved his life by hiding him in a bathroom when the Nazi’s came.  It’s where he began his long, hard, unimaginable journey that eventually brought him to Chicago.  Papa Max used to say he got to Chicago “by chance” – if he was able to escape earlier, he wouldn’t have met my grandma and he wouldn’t have his family. I wish we could all live with his positivity. Aside from the incredible must see tourist spots in Vienna, I got to visit things very personal to my family history – my Papa Max’s school, the square where he met his father for the first time (he was forced out of Poland before he was born), and the apartment where his parents were taken… and where he was saved.

By chance.

So, if by chance, you find yourself in Vienna… eat that piece of cake on a Tuesday afternoon. You only live once.


Hotel Imperial A part of Marriott’s luxury collection so you can use your cash (or points) wisely and stay like royalty.  The traditional grandeur of the hotel gives off just that – King and Queen vibes. 


Cafe Imperial – Award winning schnitzel.  Say no more. While I would normally move quickly past a hotel’s cafe, this award is legit.  We tried many a schnitzels during our stay and this happened to be my favorite.  Thin, crispy, and simple. Perfection. 

Zum Schwarzen Kameel – Otherwise known as the Black Camel.  Even in winter, seating spills out the front door and onto the sidewalk.  Customers are drinking outside and overall, it’s a fun packed vibe.  

Fabios – For some Italian flavor in Vienna. We loved the veal chop, the ravioli, and the zucchini with mint. Don’t skip the apple tart for dessert.  When in Rome…

Neni Israeli breakfast before walking walking around Naschmrkt.  The Shakshuka is worth any wait

Cafe Demel – A staple in Vienna for melange coffee and cakes.  We decided to try an assortment but the Fächertorte and apple strudel were favorites.  

O Boeufes – A modern steakhouse with an industrial vibe.  Try the charcuterie, ox truffle gnocchi, mussels, and the caramel bread pudding dessert. I do wish we got to try the hairy pig because it’s not often you see that on a menu!  

Cafe Pruckell – More pastries, more cake, more coffee, more schnitzel.  Why not? But the beef with onions was our favorite at this spot.

Gasthaus Pochl – While this may not be my favorite spot food wise, the electric local vibe on a fantastic street makes it worthwhile. We ate super late on a Monday and it was still busy.  Highlights were the goat cheese and fig salad and the egg special appetizer.  

Kleins Cafe – On my list for next time as it’s also located on a picture perfect cobblestone street packed with locals late on a Monday. Always a good sign.


Bar Onyx – Drinks with a beautiful view of St. Stephen Cathedral 

Weinbar at Julius Meinl – For gourmet food and wine shopping

Roberto American Bar

Loos – Both bars were cool, crowded, and dark.

Vinoteck W Einkehr – A small Austrian wine store and bar.  We loved the wine, but loved the experience and people even more.  As we spent some time talking to the owner, we learned that his dad was a “housekeeper” for Al Capone back in Chicago. Making friends and hearing stories is the most special part of travel.


Belvedere Palace – Can’t miss The Kiss!


Spittleburg Neighborhood – Think Brooklyn.  It’s becoming more trendy.  Narrow cobblestone streets where the locals hang.  During holiday season, there are smaller and less touristy Christmas markets that sell some interesting things.

Christmas Markets – Get in the holiday spirit, it’s impossible not to. My two favorites – the less touristy one in Spittleburg and the big one in front of the Park Hyatt. Although the award for the best view goes to the main market at Rathous and the market near the St. Charles Cathedral.

Ballet – Oh how I love the ballet and especially during the holidays. My husband even admitting to loving it. We sat in one of those cute little boxes, made new friends from Europe, and admired the beautiful dancing in the Jewels performance.  


Graben Street – One of the most famous streets in Vienna, you can’t miss it.

St Stephen’s Cathedral – and the street leading up to the cathedral is stunning.

Naschmrkt – I love a food market. They make me happy. Sample all the things.


Eden – Nightclub with a live band that could have played at bar mitzvahs but hey, I was into it. 

Das Loft – You know it’s good people watching with interesting attire when there’s a sign at the front that reads “please note that the wardrobe is mandatory” Nonetheless, go here for drinks with a fantastic view.


"I got here by chance..."

-Papa Max




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